With roughly 1 in 10 people "disliking" its trailer on YouTube, initial sales figures that allegedly indicate that it barely sold half as many units as its predecessor (putting it at around $275 million in sales), and an average user review score of 3/10 on Metacritic, it would be an understatement to say that Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is proving to be very unpopular. For reference (and if we are to assume that Infinite Warfare really did only sell half as well as Black Ops III), this would mean that the latest entry in the Call of Duty franchise sold worse than Halo 5: Guardians, a game that only came out on one platform, by some $125 million, to say nothing of how it is being treated across virtually all forms of social media. Needless to say, being released in the same holiday window as Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2, and a plethora of other AAA games is likely not helping either.
Such a relative rout for a franchise that could once stand toe to toe in sales with the Halo series at its prime is an unfortunate, yet somewhat expected outcome. After all, while Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare shaped multiplayer for years to come, its successors failed to innovate (or even offer anything substantially new) for years and years; for a franchise that has annual holiday releases, this is practically suicide (just ask Ubisoft about Assassin's Creed). To its credit, Infinite Warfare did top the UK sales charts, although when you consider how its competition included a two week old FPS (Battlefield 1), a re-release of a game from five years ago (Skyrim), and a singleplayer stealth game (Dishonored 2), this is hardly much cause for celebration.
Of course, anyone can go on and on about how Infinite Warfare may be the death of the Call of Duty franchise because no dead horse has been more thoroughly beaten, but what of the future? Do people even want another Call of Duty now that its name only serves to bring up memories of cliched and linear singleplayer campaigns, stale multiplayer with some of the tackiest aesthetic unlocks imaginable, Mountain Dew, Doritos, and screaming children to an audience that is increasingly more diverse and (presumably) more mature? That is the question that Activision must answer, especially now that EA is making quite a push into the historical and future themed fast-paced FPS market. Perhaps it would be best to let the franchise die off quietly, giving Activision the ability to at least say that they tried to shake things up with Infinite Warfare. Or perhaps a full blown reboot is in order, scrapping everything from the ground up so that the only thing that remains is the name.
Either way, it is rather clear that people just want something different; simply changing the setting of the game, whether it be modern, historical, or futuristic, is not as important as the actual gameplay itself. Something like a squad-based, futuristic tactical shooter a la Star Wars: Republic Commando mixed with Brothers in Arms; or a return to WWII with slower and more methodical gameplay; or even a modern shooter that resembles Rainbow 6: Siege but with a campaign that has actual emotional weight and choices (see Spec Ops: The Line, or really any game that lets you affect the outcome of the story via in-game choices); maybe even go all out on making Zombies a standalone lighthearted survival spinoff—the possibilities are endless. As long as Activision shows that they genuinely understand the concept of competition driving innovation, it would at the very least make it less likely for people to mass downvote their next trailer. Otherwise, should they stay their present course, the only thing that Activision is accomplishing is dragging the Call of Duty franchise through the mud, kicking and screaming to the bargain bin as everyone else just looks on in indifference.